Our mind has a way of drawing us away from the present moment, into loops and spirals of thought patterns and fantasies. As we tune into the chatter of our minds, it can feel as if we are up and away, outside of our bodies, maybe even outside our head, existing in the realm of thoughts and day dreams.
Good or bad, these habitual visualisations of the past or future will have a corresponding reaction in our bodies. And yet we often remain totally unaware of the feelings and reactions our bodies are having whilst we are wildly pulled along by our thoughts.
One potent way to bring ourselves back into our bodies, and back onto Planet Earth, is by connecting with Nature. The next time you feel yourself lost in thoughts, try these grounding methods to bring you back into the present moment.
Honour the ancestry of the land you walk on
As you arrive at a place abundant in natural flaura an fauna, take a moment to acknowledge the incredible history of this place. You can start by acknowledging the human ancestors who were here before you, the ways in which they cared for this land and carried on the knowledge of survival for our generations to live peacefully in this place. Bring your awareness to the trees, the young and the ancient who have outlived generations of people and the many ways we have manipulated their spaces. Acknowledge that the Earth you walk on has been walked on by many before you, and the same plant kingdom you see here will remain living among us for many generations to come. Just as you would greet and acknowledge someone new when you enter their home, acknowledge and greet this new place. This small act creates a deeper connection between you and this land and opens up a new conscious relationship between yourself and Nature.
Walk Barefoot on the Earth
Remove your shoes and connect with the Earth. As you do so, bring your awareness to the soles of your feet and how it feels to stand on the Earth. Notice which parts of your feet are connecting with the ground. And how the Earth feels in those different places. Is it warm, cool, wet or dry? Spread your toes wide and intentionally connect each one to the ground. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed different parts of the feet correspond with the systems and organs of the body. As you walk along the Earth, visualise that your entire body is being energised by the Earth through the soles of your feet, sending a dose of natural medicine throughout your body.
The practice of 'forest bathing', or shinrin-yoku, was introduced to Japan in the 1980s. Several studies have been conducted in the years since to show that walking in the forest and immersing yourself completely in it, can reduce psychological stress and symptoms of depression, while at the same time improving sleep and increasing energy levels. These benefits were far greater for people who spent 40 minutes forest bathing, compared to those walking indoors or on treadmills. There is no denying nature has an incredible impact on our brain activity and research has shown that our emotions of pleasure and happiness are increased with higher levels of tree density.
Meditate on an aspect Nature
Nature is our greatest teacher. We can learn about impermanence from watching her thrive in the cyclical nature of constant death and rebirth with the seasons. We can be reminded of the necessity of letting go with each wave that vanishes from the shore, and the light inherent in our darkness from gazing at the of the moon. The next time you are in a natural space, find one piece of nature to connect with, wether that be an element -like water or fire - or the tinniest thing you can find, such as a leaf, flower or insect. Gazing at this chosen object or phenomena allow your thoughts to quieten as you reflect on its qualities. Notice the intricate patterns, the way it moves and interacts with the elements around it. Notice the way life moves through this piece of nature, and maybe how some of these qualities also move through you.
Take a piece of nature with you with the malachite gemstone. The beautiful green hues are reminiscent of the outdoors and personifies the healing power of nature. This is a stone of transformation and renewal.